Hundreds of climate experts and activists have queued up every day in front of the pink vegan food truck. That’s because that was the only vegan-option available at this year’s UN climate conference in Madrid, known as COP25. There were not enough plant-based options on the menu and even the local restaurants didn't offer anything vegan. Burger King, which launched a plant-based Rebel Whopper across Europe last month, didn’t have the item in its restaurant located at Madrid conference centre where COP25 was organised.
Anil Datta from Australia said: “It’s hard to find vegetarian or vegan food around this venue. It’s an irony because this is COP, we’re talking about raising ambition to fight climate change and reducing emissions.”
The climate meeting has attracted over 26,000 attendees and observers from almost 200 countries to talk about climate change and cutting greenhouse emissions. It is surprising there was a lack of climate-friendly food on a meeting which gathered so many climate experts.
According to UN data, animal agriculture accounts for approximately 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Our current food production has a very negative impact on the environment. Consumers are increasingly aware of climate emergency and want to do more to fight global warming.
The original plan of this conference was a menu that was at least 65% to 70% plant-based. The event was supposed to take place in Santiago de Chile. And a local Vegetarian nonprofit was involved in preparing the menu. Unfortunately, the conference had to be moved to Madrid because of violent street protests in Chile. The Chilean president had to cancel the event a month before its start. Spain was the first country which offered help. It took only 3 weeks to organise it in Madrid and many logistic problems appeared.
Most of the international delegates and prominent politicians attending the official lunch at this year’s COP chose to have a steak over the vegetarian option. Even though there were plant-based options available the guests were not informed about it and instead served jamón ibérico --Spain’s famous ham.
Impossible Foods Inc. - American plant-based food manufacturer won a UN award for its plant-based beef alternative this year.
“Even the people who attend this meeting and who care about climate change will want to eat a steak for dinner,” said Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick Brown. “It is possible to make products directly from plants with a tiny fraction of greenhouse gas and pollution footprint from animal agriculture that’s also appealing to meat lovers.”
Next Climate Conference COP26 will take place in Glasgow - one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the UK.
Hopefully, there will be a larger range of environmentally-friendly dishes on the menu at the next year's most important climate event.